Hands-on Review: Xperia Play (PlayStation Phone)
ORLANDO, Fla. – Gamers are anxiously awaiting the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play smartphone -- also known as the PlayStation phone , the first-ever mobile phone to integrate Playstation games and controls into an Android device. TechNewsDaily tested out the Xperia Play at the CTIA Wireless conference and it was apparent that the device was first and foremost a portable game console and only second, a phone.
The Xperia Play features a slide-out bottom, but this one is a bit different than others: A game controller is set up underneath the device instead of a QWERTY keyboard. Despite the controls being much more cramped than a standard PlayStation controller, even users with larger hands reported few problems with using the device.
The L and R bumpers appear on the side of the device, so pointer fingers easily rest on them and can still be used to support the device. The other buttons are smaller than usual, but they make a definite click sound so it's easy to tell when they've been pressed.
However, not all the controls are perfect. The two circular touchpads in the middle are intended to substitute the analog joysticks, which obviously wouldn’t have fit well in a slider phone. While the touchpads work, they don't always work well. While joysticks can be held in any direction for continuous movement, we had to keep readjusting our thumb position on the touchpad to make it work, which disrupted movement and made the touchpads difficult to use.
In addition, the game selection so far isn't terrific. However, Sony has promised that classic PlayStation games will be available for launch. The demo models of the Xperia Play featured a wide range of games that varied in quality, from arcade and simulator games to racing, social and fighting ones.
One element that is apparent when using Xperia Play is that most games look fantastic. Images are crystal clear, and if a game can run at a high enough resolution, it looks stunning. Our biggest gripe was that the screen wasn’t as large as we'd like it to be to appreciate the graphics even more.
The phone's design is black shiny and plasticlike. While it seems sturdy enough, the overall construction feels cheap. The Android 2.3 experience -- don't forget this is also a regular Android phone underneath -- is pretty standard and unremarkable. It seems even more drab considering the device's unique game capabilities. Although it's still possible to play games from the Android Market app store , they won't interface with the game controls.
The Xperia Play is perfect for those who don't want to carry around a portable game console, such as a PSP, and a separate phone. It integrates the two devices well enough and will be a special treat for fans of the original PlayStation games.
But one thing is certain: You won't be buying the Sony Ericsson solely for its smartphone features.
Verizon will carry the Xperia Play for an undetermined price. An Ericsson spokesperson said it will be available "in the next few weeks."